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Time for a history lesson, of sorts. The reason I used that particular phrase, well, there is no 100% agreement on the story of how Valentine's Day came into being. Yes, there is agreement that the day is named after a Saint, Saint Valentine, but, it could be more than one man.

Yes, there were two men named Valentine who were executed on February 14th, in different years, both by Emperor Claudius II. The Catholic Church may have established St. Valentine's Day in order to honor these men, as they were believed to be martyrs. It is also possible that Saint Valentine of Terni had been secretly officiating wedding for Roman soldiers, against the emperor's wishes.

Others feel that Valentine's Day was designated by Pope Gelasius I in order to replace the ancient Roman festival Lupercalia. What is Lupercalia? A pretty grim and graphic festival in ancient times. It happened around the same time and involved pagan rituals inlcuding:

... a pagan ritual of naked men whipping women with the blood-soaked hides of sacrificial animals, which they believed promoted fertility. Following this flagellation was an equally strange tradition, in which men selected women's names at random to decide who would remain together the rest of the festival, or, if the match was successful, for life.

A different theory was put forth by a University of Kansas English Professor:

Through research, he determined that the poet Geoffrey Chaucer linked love with St. Valentine for the first time in his 14th-century works "The Parlement of Foules" and "The Complaint of Mars." Therefore, Oruch claimed that Chaucer invented Valentine's Day as we know it today. (At the time of Chaucer's writing, February 14 also happened to be considered the first day of spring in Britain, since it was the beginning of birds' mating season—perfectly appropriate for a celebration of affection.)

So, there you go. From rather dark beginnings to Chaucer and the way we celebrate Valentine's Day in this present day, there's more than meets the eye. However you celebrate it now, Valentine's Day is a good day to remind those in your life of how much you love them, it's not just for romantic love.

Sources: NPR.org, Countryliving.com

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